The Thumb Trigger Concept Anew: Iron Horse’s TOR

The idea of a thumb trigger in place of a traditional index finger trigger has come up a number of times in firearms history (the Pieri carbines tested in France and Italy, the Winchester Thumb Trigger .22, etc). The most recent iteration (and the first semiauto one, as far as I can tell) is Iron Horse’s “TOR”, or “Thumb Operated Receiver”. It’s pretty simple in operation, with the trigger located high in the back of the grip and actuated by the thumb. It is suggested that this style will be better for precision shooting, better in cold weather, and better for people with a handicap that inhibits use of the index finger. Well, the one of those I can test out here in Arizona is precision shooting…so let’s see how the thumb trigger compares to a traditional trigger, with all else remaining the same.


  1. The only advantage I see is when you loose your gun and the “other party” get it in hand….
    Will never find out how to shoot….hahaha

        • Keep calm, according to 43th President of United States
          You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.

      • Hi Stephen lol.
        You know that your world not ending at the Atlantic or Pacific coast…?
        Only 4,922% of the earth population are native english speakers.
        I am not one of them. But I am proud to speak 3 languages Deutsch 100%, English 70% and ภาษาไทย 5%.
        You speak any other language?

        P.S. My profession is physicist. As such I KNOW in the Universe are minimum 10E25 intelligent habitants that make english the 10E-25 used language…hahahaha

  2. Interesting idea. The one thing I not is that it looks like your thumb has to be bent close to 90° and pushes down on the trigger. It seems like it would be better if the trigger was vertical or at most 45°.

  3. By the way: as far as I know, emperor Wilhelm II had a 20 gauge side-by-side break action shotgun with thumb trigger buttons on the top of the action made by Philip Reeb. Picture and some details:
    1. in Walter Schultz’s book, titled “1000 Handfeuerwaffen”
    2. …and article in the Deutsches Waffen Journal: Für den Kaiser (September 2005):
    3. …and here:

  4. Thumb trigger firring from the level of the waste, will not be so easy…
    If someone wants to innovate, he could try to make a vz52 lmg with JMB rate reducer engaging with the insertion of the mag, and disengaging with the mag release lever.Also, in .303, with no headspace issues, no need for fluted barrel(slightly conical), and les powerful than .308, and more than 223.He would turn many people unemployed ! Merry Christmas.

  5. Would be ideal for harsh cold conditions as you could just leave your mitten on. Trigger finger mittens are not ideal, at least for me that is.

  6. What do you mean that it does not get cold in the desert?
    Have you ever lain in ambush from midnight until 03:00 am.?
    It gets coldest just before dawn.
    Hint: I used to live in the Mojave Desert of California.

    Are the protective “walls” wide enough apart to accommodate the thumb of an arctic mitten?

    Finally, have you considered adding finger grooves or a spur to the bottom of the pistol grip to encourage that lower hand position?

  7. The thumb is shorter and stronger, and for most people more controllable, than a finger. You could increase the pull weight of a thumb trigger considerably and not suffer any difficulties — an added safety factor right there. You could swell the walls of that receptacle to accommodate a mitten without sacrificing trigger protection.

    Designing different angles to suit individual tastes (I’d rather press down with my thumb than forward — unless I changed my mind after some practice) is easy with a thumb trigger; how about an inventory of snap-in assemblies to cater to discriminating shootists?

    Thumb triggers have all the advantages over finger triggers except history — and don’t you dig how Ian tries to find every fault with the Iron Horse offering that he can, because, well, dammit, it just ain’t the way a shootin’ iron ought to touch off!

    Okay, I didn’t believe that stuff about better accuracy either.

    • It existed on muzzleloading firearms from Turkey to Japan. Cossack Berdan had this trigger because that was a popular style among the cossacks (who bough their own weapons before the advent of centerfire cartridges).

  8. Today we learned…
    Correct trigger handling, practiced, if not for years, then in hundreds of shots.
    I cannot call this an “honest comparison”.
    Even if you do not take into account that different butts blow different accuracy.
    “The barrel shoots, but the butt hits.” (C)

    However, today we learned about another interesting design.
    Not bad.

    • PS You cannot study the effect on the system from changing one of the key control signals when you change two at the same time.

  9. Agree with assessment. For winter, a mitten would certainly have advantages in extreme cold, as you don’t need to expose fingers or thumb, but other that that, don’t see any real advantage, unless you are having issues with you index finger.

  10. Sit at a benchrest for better stability and repeatability of trigger break, put 100 rounds on paper with thumb trigger then reshoot the comparison. More experience with the thumb trigger will give a more realistic comparison of the real differences between the trigger types. thousands of rounds with conventional triggers versus sighters for scope zeroing is not valid comparison.

  11. For those of us who have been shooting for 20, 30, 40, or 50 plus years, the practiced trigger finger is probably going to be the winner. However, I could see a market for this concept among the younger generation, who have spent countless hours with a video game controller building up thumb use. And use by those who have a disability of the trigger finger or use with winter mittens (Not a thing here in South Carolina) could also be good.

  12. I wonder if it would be possible to have both triggers on one lower. Can’t think of any real use cases.

    I also wonder if a gloved thumb can fit in the thumb trigger channel. It looks like not much room to spare.

  13. Thirty years ago, I came across something like a report from a group of enthusiasts who investigated the use of such a trigger for target shooting.
    I remember that they came to the conclusion that “due to the anatomical features, the trigger controlled by the thumb allows for better control over pressing the trigger and achieve a noticeable reduction in the number of errors”.

  14. I thought I read that the thumb-trigger Winchester .22 was almost the generic ‘boy’s’ rifle in Australia for some considerable period.

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